L'Art au féminin XIV - is it still appropriate to organise exhibitions focused exclusively on women's art?

March 04, 2020

For the 14th edition of our exhibition "Artea hika, artea noka - L’Art au féminin" marking International Women’s Day, we are exhibiting the works of three artists who experiment with colour in different ways: Colette Dubuc, Josette Dacosta, and Oaia Peruarena.

Colette Dubuc (St. Jacques de la Lande, 1934) studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Rennes before joining the studio of artist Robert Tatin, an emblematic representative of the Art Brut movement, in the early 1950s. She lives and works in Larressore, Lapurdi.

Josette Dacosta (Talence, 1944) studied painting in Madrid and lived in Oxford, England, and in Paris before returning to settle in the Basque Country. She has her studio in St Jean Pied de Port, Lower Navarre.

Oaia Peruarena (Irun, 1972) lives and works in Bera, Navarre. She learned to paint under the guidance of the artists of the nearby Baztan valley, Tomás Sobrino y José Mari Apezetxea, moving over the years from a representational approach towards abstraction.

All three have already participated in this series of exhibitions, launched in 2007 in response to a sentiment that female artists were not receiving the recognition they deserved in the world of contemporary art.

It was not a new concern. Already in 1985, in the United States, the Guerrilla Girls had denounced the almost total absence of women - only 13 against 156 men - in what was billed as "an international look at painting and sculpture" organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

But the world is changing, and so is the appreciation of women's approach to artistic creation. Tate Modern's London 2020 programme, for example, features no less than seven female artists in solo exhibitions, compared to just four men.

At the Pompidou Centre in Paris, out of seven individual exhibitions scheduled between now and August four concern male artists while three are devoted to women, with in addition an exhibition featuring the husband-and-wife team Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Closer to home, in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Artium’s programme includes two solo exhibitions for women against one for a man.

Looking to the future, women are making their presence increasingly felt in art schools and competitions. At the École Supérieure d'Art Pays Basque in Biarritz/Bayonne, 70% of the students are female, mirroring trends elsewhere in France.

Is it then still relevant to organize exhibitions devoted exclusively to women artists? The question calls for consideration. We would like to hear your thoughts. Write to us at itzalaktiboa@gmail.com

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